Many top quality/trusted studies show that it has major benefits for your body and brain.
Listed here are the top 10 evidence-based health benefits of taking turmeric:
1. Turmeric contains bioactive compounds with medicinal properties
It has been used in India for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb and is what gives curry it's yellow color.
Recently, science has started to back up what the Indians have known for a long time in that it really does contain compounds with medicinal properties. The compounds, called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin. This is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and is a very strong antioxidant.
However, the curcumin content of turmeric is not that high… it’s around 3%, by weight.
Most of the studies on this herb are using turmeric extracts that contain mostly curcumin itself, with dosages usually exceeding 1 gram per day. It would be very difficult to reach these levels just using the turmeric spice in your foods.
Therefore, if you want to experience the full effects, then you need to take an extract that contains significant amounts of curcumin. Curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream so you need to consume black pepper with it, which contains piperine… a natural substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2000%.
Curcumin is also fat soluble, so it may be a good idea to take it with a fatty meal.
2. Curcumin is a natural anti inflammatory compound.
Although inflammation is important it is now thought that chronic, low-level inflammation plays a huge role in almost every chronic, Western disease. This includes heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and various degenerative conditions.
Therefore, anything that can help fight chronic inflammation is of potential importance in preventing and even treating these diseases.
It turns out that curcumin is strongly anti-inflammatory, it is so powerful that it matches the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs. Curcumin actually targets multiple steps in the inflammatory pathway, at the molecular level.
In several studies, its potency compared favorably to anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical drugs… except without the side effects.
3. Turmeric increases the antioxidant capacity of the body
Oxidative damage is believed to be one of the mechanisms behind aging and many diseases.
Free radicals tend to react with important organic substances, such as fatty acids, proteins or DNA.
The main reason antioxidants are so beneficial, is that they protect our bodies from free radicals.
Curcumin happens to be a potent antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals due to its chemical structure.
Curcumin also boosts the activity of the body’s own antioxidant enzymes. In that way, curcumin delivers a one-two punch against free radicals. It blocks them directly, then stimulates the body’s own antioxidant mechanisms.
4. Curcumin Boosts Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, Linked to Improved Brain Function and a Lower Risk of Brain Diseases
It was originally believed that neurons weren’t able to divide and multiply after early childhood.
However, it is now known that this does happen. The neurons are capable of forming new connections, but in certain areas of the brain, they can also multiply and increase in number.
One of the main drivers of this process is brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is a type of growth hormone that functions in the brain. Many common brain disorders have been linked to decreased levels of BDNF. This includes depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
Interestingly, curcumin can increase brain levels of BDNF. By doing this, it may be effective at delaying or even reversing many brain diseases and age-related decreases in brain function.
There is also the possibility that it could help improve memory and make you smarter.
5. Curcumin can lower the risk of heart disease
It turns out that heart disease is incredibly complicated and there are various things that contribute to it. Perhaps the main benefit of curcumin when it comes to heart disease, is improving the function of the endothelium, which is the lining of the blood vessels. It is well known that endothelial dysfunction is a major driver of heart disease and involves an inability of the endothelium to regulate blood pressure, blood clotting and other factors. Several studies suggest that curcumin leads to improvements in endothelial function. One study shows that is as effective as exercise, another shows that it works as well as the drug Atorvastatin. But curcumin also reduces inflammation and oxidation (as discussed above), which are also important in heart disease.
6. Turmeric can help prevent cancer
There are many different forms of cancer, but they do have several common factors.
Researchers have been studying curcumin as a beneficial herb in cancer treatment. It can affect cancer growth, development and spread.
Studies have shown that it can reduce angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels in tumors), metastasis (spread of cancer), as well as contributing to the death of cancer cells.
Multiple studies have shown that curcumin can reduce the growth of cancerous cells in the laboratory and inhibit the growth of tumors in test animals.
Whether high-dose curcumin (preferably with an absorption enhancer like pepper) can help treat cancer in humans has yet to be tested fully. However, there is some evidence that it may help prevent cancer from occurring in the first place, especially cancers of the digestive system by reducing inflammation.
7. Curcumin maybe useful in preventing and treating Alzheimer's
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in the world and a leading cause of dementia. Unfortunately, there really isn't a good drug available to treat it yet.
Therefore, preventing it from showing up in the first place is of utmost importance.
Curcumin has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier. It is known that inflammation and oxidative damage play a role in Alzheimer’s disease. As we know, curcumin has beneficial effects on both. But one key feature of Alzheimer's is a buildup of protein tangles called Amyloid plaques. Studies show that curcumin can help clear these plaques. Research is still needed.
8. Arthritis responds will to turmeric treatment
There are several types of arthritis, but all involve inflammation in the joints.
Given that curcumin is a strong anti-inflammatory, it makes sense that it could help with arthritis. Several studies show this to be true. In a study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin was even more effective than an anti-inflammatory drug. Many other studies have looked at the effects of curcumin on arthritis and noted improvements in symptoms.
9. Studies show benefits of curcumin against depression
Curcumin has shown promise in treating depression. In a controlled trial, 60 patients were randomized into three groups. One group took prozac, another group took a gram of curcumin and the third group took both prozac and curcumin.
After 6 weeks, curcumin had led to improvements that were similar to prozac. The group that took both prozac and curcumin fared best.
According to this (small) study, curcumin is as effective as an antidepressant. There is also some evidence that curcumin can boost the brain neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
10. Curcumin may help delay aging and fight age related chronic diseases
If curcumin can really help prevent heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s… then this would have obvious benefits for living longer. For this reason, curcumin has become very popular as an anti-aging supplement. But given that oxidation and inflammation are believed to play a role in aging, curcumin may have effects that go way beyond just prevention of disease.
Whether you juice the root, cook with the powdered spice or take supplements, this powerful yellow herb is worth having!